One of the biggest lessons I've learned over the years from decorating our house, my first studio apartment, and even my dorm room, is that the cost of creating a visually appealing space adds up quickly. In my new book, Cupcakes and Cashmere at Home, I point out where you should splurge and save and the different design tactics I used when I was renter versus now as a home owner. To that end, you don't have to spend a ton of money to make a big impact. Of course, there were pricier items that I invested in (like the couch G and I sit on every night to watch TV), but I've found that it's having a balance between those staples and affordable pieces that creates the most well-rounded space.
Mantel: The inglenook is one of the most charming parts of our home. This is the space immediately off our front door and so I knew I wanted something there to make a statement. One of my favorite things about a mantel is that you can change the space without having to invest a lot of time or money into it. The brass figurine was a lucky flea market find that I haggled down to $20 and I love that it adds height and drama to the room. Though the custom-made otami print cushions are one of the key points of the space, it's the candlesticks, globe and brass bust that add personality.
DIY Logs: On our honeymoon in Rome, there was a fireplace in one of the hotel rooms that looked as though there were dozens of skinny logs stacked inside of it, but when you looked up close, it was an illusion. The hotel had glued pieces of birch into the fireplace. For a long time, we struggled with what to do with our own fireplace, (because of the dangerous collapsed firebox) and this birch DIY was the ideal solution. I love that it looks more pulled together than our previous stacked pillar candles.
Gallery Wall: I used to think that gallery walls were exorbitantly expensive because they required you to purchase so much art, but there are pieces in ours that cost less than $20. My favorites include the shark teeth that are a nod to G's favorite movie (Jaws), the black and white print of John Lennon (my favorite musician), and the photograph of pink balloons I used as my first header on the blog.
Guest Room Side Tables: Our guest room gets a lot of use. My parents stay over frequently and many of our friends have crashed after a long, extended dinner party. The bedside tables in the room are from Target and were about $100 each. They're in a traditional shape and painted a neutral color so I know that I'll hold on to them forever.
Dining Room Chairs: I was in love with our first set of dining room chairs: they were upholstered in dusty pink velvet, with high backs, and gold legs and I found them for a reasonable price at the flea market. But, because I only found four, we had to have four more custom made to match and they ended up being really expensive. The longer we had the chairs, the more impractical they were between dinner party mishaps to having a child. So, we found these black minimalist chairs on Amazon (for around $100 each) and added leather seat pads for a unique touch.
Marble Canisters: When we moved into our home, we brought over our old Ikea canisters for our new kitchen. The canisters were tarnished and grimy and looked out of place on our countertops. These cost under $25 from Crate and Barrel but are substantial and look a lot more expensive than they are. It's a small detail, but I love when something that's traditionally unattractive is redesigned to be beautiful.
Corner Details: Some of my favorite pieces of artwork in the house are the gold foil prints that flank the entrance to our dining room. I found both at a flea market where they originally came in a gaudy gold (and very old) frame. I had the prints re-matted and re-framed to match our home's aesthetic and was impressed by how big of a difference a simple frame-job can make.
Vase: The face vase is something that I'd lusted after on many different home decor sites, but they were always so pricey. When I spotted this one at the flea market, I was ecstatic to find out that it was just under $10. I like to use it to corral small trinkets and plan on filling it with spring blooms soon.
Affordable home picks from around the web: